Mulgrew: Teacher Back-Pay 'A Big Issue' in Contract Negotiations

Monday, February 17, 2014 - 01:24 PM

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, has said he does not want to negotiate a new contract for teachers through the media. But on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show Monday, he said the importance of improving teacher working conditions, retaining teachers and back-pay are key issues for the union when it comes to negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"It is a big issue for us. It is a very large issue for us," he said of back-pay for New York City's teachers who have been working under an expired contract since 2009.

Nate, a teacher from Manhattan, called in to the show to say he would be willing to forgo back-pay so long as teachers received a pay-raise and improved working conditions. He said teachers put in far more hours than are allotted during the work day to plan lessons and fill out paperwork.

"Frankly, it's not about money," he said. "It's about having the time to do our job effectively."

Nate said that, beyond lesson plans and grading papers on their own time, teachers must parse student data and document student progress in overly burdensome formats.

"When I'm at school during my prep periods, I'm required to do this jumping through hoops of making these bizarre spreadsheets that get sent to central and never get used for anything."

Mulgrew also highlighted teacher retention as an issue for New York City, condemned the implementation of the Common Core learning standards as a "fiasco" and addressed a caller's concerns about the Absent Teacher Reserve, a pool of teachers that remain on staff at the Department of Education but lack permanent positions at schools.


Comments [7]

My thoughts exactly, Allan, since I heard Jeff making his comments on the interview with Mulgrew. Thanks for piping in.

Feb. 19 2014 10:36 AM

I'm curious as to whethewr those teachers who would forego retro would be eligible for it. After all, you have to have been working since 2009 to be entitled to full back pay. To be against it is also to tell our colleagues who retired since 2009 that they accepted a wage freeze since then.

The fact remains that when we tried to get larger raises than other city workers the city cited "pattern bargaining". Why should we take less than the pattern of 4 and 4 that other city unions received for 2009-10

Feb. 19 2014 10:05 AM
Linda from Bronx

Not the teachers I speak with, Jeff!! I'm sorry but it is NOT for teachers to pay for Bloomturd mistakes and our backpay is NOT paltry. We have been abused and passive for way too long. It is time to reclaim our battered self esteem and FEEL entitled!! That is our money and I truly hope that Mulgrew doesn't take our entitlements lightly. I agree wholeheartedly with all the issues you mention but they are necessary changes that this friendlier and more pro-educator administration should be motivated to make without expecting teachers to pay for them! It's time for us to stop being soooooo wimpy. It didn't help us with a bully in the office, it won't help us now or ever. Never be afraid to have dignity and feel entitled to what we earn.

Feb. 18 2014 11:31 PM
Jeff from Brooklyn

@Linda Sorry, but many teachers agree with Nate...many more than you can imagine. Retroactive pay is paltry compared to improving working conditions. Calculate what you would personally receive in retro if we get 4%, 4%, 2%, 2%, and 2%. Its TOTALLY worth using this 3.2 billion dollar pricetag as a bargaining chip to improve the debacle that Bloomturd left for us.
In 1996, we took 0% and 0% but were finally removed from the denigrating jobs of lunch duty and hall patrol. Please, Mr. Mulgrew, use all bargaining tactics and keep everything on the table...eliminating fair funding, eliminating extended day, eliminating ATR's, restoring seniority transfers, and fixing the teacher evaluation cut scores should ALL be on the table in lieu of retro.

Feb. 18 2014 09:48 PM
Linda from Bronx

I heard this interview and wanted to lovingly and collegially strangle young sounding Nate!!!!! Don't know how many years Nate has invested in this expired contract, but either way, please Mike Mulgrew don't think that most of our membership feels that way about back pay!!!!! Many of us suffered losses during the economic downturn and need to recuperate and rebuild, like the rest of the U.S.

I also think it's ridiculous and sheepish for teachers to be expected to pay to have the inefficient, counter-productive and horrendous Bloomberg policies terminated in our schools!!!!! Please do NOT consider using our backpay or any other money or benefits as bargaining chips to end absurd anti-educational Bloomberg mandates.

Teachers have been beleaguered and abused and exploited, and really, we've been pretty darn passive these past 10 years. Enough is enough is enough. We need to feel entitled. You deserve to be well compensated, Nate.

Feb. 18 2014 04:16 PM
Teacherfrom Chalkdays from Notmanhattan

The UFT's Mulgrew didn't even respond to the ATR issue commenter's criticism of ATRs' being observed with classes they just met that week or that morning.

Feb. 18 2014 10:29 AM

My question is, what was Mulgrew's answer pertaining to the ATR issue?

Feb. 17 2014 07:57 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.